Most Commonly Asked Questions About Medical Alerts
Medical alert systems are valuable, lifesaving tools to help keep senior citizens and those who live alone safe. Whether you are elderly and frail, and worried about “falling and not being able to get up,” or are relatively young and healthy, but live alone and could use some extra reassurance that emergency help will be available when you need it, the best medical alert systems have a lot to offer. So let’s dive right in and learn more about the top medical alert systems.
What is a Medical Alert System?
Medical alert systems can provide numerous safety and security functions for those who live alone or are of advanced age. Some provide on-demand contact with emergency services via a single press of a button on base stations that can be placed throughout the home. Others provide that service, in addition to wearable pendants that can be pressed to contact those same services.
Most have operators/customer service personnel who monitor the systems and respond verbally through the linked speaker/phone system when the alerts are activated. If help is required, then the operator dispatches emergency services to the person’s home. These systems can help prevent an accident, fall, or other injuries from turning into a tragedy where seniors or others cannot get help, but cannot make it to a phone.
What Are the Top 10 Medical Alert Systems?
Below, we explore some of the highlights of the top medical alert systems on the market today. Specifically, we look at price and value, functionality, support, and connection types for the service.
Medical Guardian offers a range of products, from large, full-home systems to wearables that are like a smartwatch. These medical alert systems include long battery life, fall detection technology, 24/7 monitoring services, large signal area, and more.
Depending on the device (wearable, in-home, etc.) the connection type varies as well. Pricing ranges between $29.95 to $49.95 per month. You can also purchase annual or quarterly plans to receive additional discounts. Medical Guardian has won numerous industry awards for quality and value.
Like most other providers, MobileHelp offers a home option, mobile option, combo unit, and fall detection accessory. Depending on your needs, you can choose which setup makes the most sense to you. No landline is required – all options use cellular technology. Plans range from $20 to $42/month.
Medical Alert offers both on-the-go and home-based medical alert systems at affordable prices. Whether you have a landline or not, they have an option that is suitable for you, making it possible to get help 24/7. Their wearable pendant-style devices have built-in fall detection technology. Landline and cellular/GPS models are also available. Prices range from $19/month to $38/month, depending on connection and device type and other options.
Like most of the other best medical alert system services on our list, LifeStation offers in-home landline, in-home cellular, and mobile cellular/GPS medical alert options, including fall detection. They too have 24/7 operator monitoring. Plans start at $26/month for landline models.
Philips is a trusted name in consumer electronics. Their Lifeline service offers the full range of options, like the other top medical alert system providers. They have multiple options for their wearables, and all of the customary connection types available for their devices. Their products are divided into their “HomeSafe” and “GoSafe” lines, with costs from $30/month to $55/month, along with one-time activation fees, depending on the model and options chosen.
ADT is one of the most respected names in the industry for home security systems, so a medical alert system (which operates on similar principles) is a natural extension of their existing business model. They offer three models or plans – basic (a landline base unit and wearables that work in the home), plus (cellular base unit, fall detection, additional wearable options), and on-the-go (a mobile base unit, fall detection, additional wearable options, GPS location functionality). These are priced from $30 to $40 per month.
LifeFone also offers a full range of options for home and mobile alert systems. In addition, they have fire, smoke, and CO detection, mobile apps, and many other accessories in their line of products. And, they’ve been in business for over 40 years, so they have a track record of quality service. Prices range from $25 to $43/month depending on the option that you go for.
Helpbutton offers a single wearable, watch-like unit that’s suitable for in-home and on-the-go use. It uses cellular technology, paired with GPS and Wi-Fi functionality which works to pinpoint your exact location. There’s a built-in two-way speakerphone, fall detection, a 5-day battery life per charge, it’s waterproof, and has 24/7 monitoring. Depending on what type of plan you choose, the plans range from $19.45/month to $29.95/month.
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical has an in-home and in-car system, or a combo system with both sets of components. While they don’t have a mobile GPS version yet available, they have 70 years of history behind their products and services. The landline, in-home unit with associated pendant starts at $20/month, with a $30/month cellular option, $30/month in-car cellular option (that offers crash detection, too), or $60/month for a full combo suite of everything available.
GetSafe offers home security systems as well as medical alert systems. It installs throughout the home, and is voice-activated, button-activated, and pull cord-activated. There are no wearables necessary (though they do offer them as an optional addition). Landline and cellular options are both available, with lots of different equipment options such as wall buttons, monitored smoke detector, Wi-Fi camera, and more. Plans start at $25/month.
How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?
The best medical alert systems usually work in a similar manner to a security system. They use a landline or cellular connection with special, separate hardware that routes to the monitoring center for that company. When activated, either via a detected fall (wearables) or by pressing buttons or other triggers in the in-home units, an immediate call is placed to the monitoring center.
A live agent responds and asks you if you are okay, if you require medical help, if you are injured or hurt, etc. If you can’t respond or require help, they place the dispatch call to your local ambulance or fire department and police and get you the assistance that you need. The mobile versions of these systems work on-the-go from anywhere with a cell signal, and can also provide GPS location data in case you get lost (ideal for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example).
What Equipment is Needed for Medical Alert Systems?
Most medical alert systems require a base unit and often include wearable pendants or buttons. The base unit plugs into your existing landline, or uses a cell signal and only needs to be plugged into a power outlet.
The pendants or other wearables are rechargeable in most cases and route back to the base station from within 1000 feet or more, so the home and yard area is usually well-covered.
Other, mobile medical alert system options can be used from anywhere around the US where there is cell coverage. Most are designed with two-way speakerphone functionality. Additional items, such as cameras, smoke detectors, wall buttons, and other accessories are available from many of the best medical alert system companies.
Landline vs. Cellular Medical Alert Systems
The two main means of connecting an in-home medical alert system are via a traditional landline telephone line, or via cellular. Not everyone has home phone service in this day and age. If you do, the medical alert hardware can plug into any phone jack in the home, and work on your existing phone system.
If you don’t, however, cellular options are usually available from the best medical alert system services. Some charge an added fee for this, while others have it included in their base plan. Mobile devices are always cellular-based, of course. Otherwise, the in-home systems work the same way; it’s really just a question of which connection method they use to contact the monitoring center in an emergency.
What Are the Monthly Fees for Medical Alert Systems?
Monthly fees vary from provider to provider and are usually based on the level of service required. Simple in-home landline systems come at a relatively low-cost. Portable, mobile, GPS-location systems tend to be a bit more expensive. And, combination systems that provide full coverage are often available at somewhat of a discount (compared to buying the component parts as separate plans).
As mentioned above in our analysis of the top medical alert system companies, monthly rates can be as low as $20/month to as high as $55/month or more depending on the options you choose. Also, some have one-time activation fees associated with them as well. Equipment is usually included as part of the purchase price of signing up for the service, though contracts of 1 year or more may be required.
Can Medical Alerts Be Helpful for Someone Who Doesn’t Speak English?
Within the US, most monitoring centers for medical alert systems have at least bilingual (English/Spanish) staff available at all times. If your loved one doesn’t speak either of those languages, don’t worry!
Monitoring centers have specialized resources available to route the call to a translator service. This covers the vast majority of common languages in use today. If this particular aspect of medical alert systems concerns you, be sure to check with your customer service representative before you choose a system, to ensure the language(s) of concern are not a problem for their staff.